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UAE’s budget carrier Air Arabia to launch new airline in Sudan

The UAE's Air Arabia spreads its wings to Sudan

Sharjah-based Air Arabia will launch a new venture, Air Arabia Sudan, in partnership with DAL Group, the budget airline said in a statement on Friday. 

Khartoum-based Air Arabia Sudan will operate a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft, pending regulatory approval. The statement did not provide any details on routes, schedules or fleet size but said these would be “communicated in due course”. 

In a statement, DAL Group’s chairman Osama Daoud Abdellatif said the new airline would help develop Sudan’s “tourism, travel, cargo transport and aviation infrastructure sectors”. 

“Air Arabia’s model is well proven over time, where it built up core operations in Sharjah and added hubs in other places,” said aviation analyst John Strickland, a director at London’s JLS Consulting.

“A number of countries who aspire to develop their airline industry, especially the low-cost model, which brings accessible pricing and opens up new routes for their customers and markets and economies, would look to Air Arabia and see how it has been successful elsewhere.”

DAL claims to be Sudan’s largest privately-owned conglomerate and operates in various industries including agriculture, energy, industrial gases and mining.

“Sudan is in the broad vicinity of Air Arabia’s footprint. The airline’s planes have the range to go from Sharjah to Sudan and points further east,” added Strickland. 

“There’s also substantial Sudanese communities abroad and that will generate VFR (visiting friends and relatives) travel to and from the country.”

Air Arabia made a net profit of AED450.9 million ($122.78m) in the first six months of 2022, up from AED44.2m a year earlier, as revenue and passenger numbers more than doubled. 

Air Arabia runs several sister airlines in which it owns minority stakes including Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, Air Arabia Egypt Co, Air Arabia Jordan and Air Arabia Maroc. In 2021, it also began operating Armenian National Airlines’ budget carrier Fly Arna, which launched flights in July 2022, and Pakistan’s Fly Jinnah. 

Air Arabia has an in-service fleet of 58 Airbus A320 and six Airbus A321 aircraft, most of which are based at its Sharjah headquarters. The company has a further 120 A320 aircraft on order, with delivery starting in 2024. 

“We continue to invest in growing our fleet size, adding new routes and new frequencies across all operating hubs, as well as developing our new joint ventures in Armenia and Pakistan,” Air Arabia’s second-quarter results presentation states.

Air Arabia’s annual revenue plunged to a 13-year low in 2020 due to the pandemic, while 2021’s was the second-lowest since 2013 as a result of prolonged covid-related disruptions to air travel.